Kayla Nicole, the model and sports broadcaster that dated Travis Kelce from 2017 through 2022, recently published a video with an encouraging message for Black women. The video comes after enduring weeks of online bullying and harassment after news broke about Travis’s situationship with Taylor Swift.
In the video, she is reciting an open letter, encouraging women to preserve their hearts. She says she wrote the letter to remind people that they’re not alone in their journeys. She challenges certain tropes, like Black women coming across as “too boisterous” or “too outspoken” while simultaneously being told that they “aren’t enough”, before concluding with a final message:
"Most importantly, I want you to remember that you are loved. You are valued. You are allowed to take up space. You deserve protection and your feelings — they matter too."
It’s anyone’s guess who the open letter is directed at, but social media users seem torn between thinking it’s directed at Taylor Swift’s fanbase and Black men. And both theories are valid.
When Travis and Kayla first started dating, the comment sections of urban blogs were full of Black men saying awful things about her, suggesting that her dating a white man was an indication that she was a gold digger. The comments are impossible to track down now, especially with all the recent news, but I remember watching the back and forth take place. As people rushed to her defense, pointing to her education and pre-existing success with modelling and broadcasting, those points continued to be shot down with more allegations that Kayla was just dating Travis for his money.
In terms of the suggestion that the video is targeted at Swifties, though, it’s another valid theory. In a post Kayla shared prior to publishing the open letter, Swifties commented things like:
"Sorry, sis. You can’t compete with a legend like T-Swift. You’ll be taking the L every time," and "Taylor Swift would never post anything like this. Why would any man wife this? Ok, nice to look at but you really want this as a wife? Posting like this for all the world to see? I say no thanks."
Then, it became clear that Taylor and Brittany Mahomes were developing a friendship as photos of the two emerged at games. Reports started swirling that Kayla had unfollowed both Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, despite the two previously having a friendship and Kayla attending Brittany’s bachelorette party, and another Swiftie commented:
"Waaaaaa.... Poor little baby has to unfollow someone because they're jealous. How the f--- old are you?"
It’s pretty human to want to establish some boundaries on social media after a breakup. In fact, this is a standardized part of my own personal post-breakup ritual. It’s natural to want to shield yourself from the updates, the stories and the posts that feature an ex, particularly if it will also shield me from seeing their new love interest. I imagine when you are bombarded by it not only on social media but also in the news, it’s even more challenging. So her unfollowing people with close connections to Travis may not come from a place of pettiness, but of coping and survival and wanting to make as clean of a break as possible from all the mess that’s going on.
There’s one other theory floating around, though, and it’s that the video is actually targeted at Black women, rather than just being for Black women – and it’s a theory that’s got legs, especially when you consider that Kayla encouraged listeners of the video to use "silence the voices" that feed "this demoralizing and antiquated narrative."
When news of Taylor and Travis’ relationship broke, Black women flocked to social media to say that Taylor was a downgrade from Kayla. Taylor’s fans quipped back that her net worth and looks far surpassed Kayla’s. It was – and still is – very much a pissing contest that neither of them agreed to be in or have even acknowledged. So as usual, fans are running themselves in circles over what could be nothing. And Kayla could be using this video to remind her Black women fans that none of this is worth the energy and effort being put into it. And that everyone is on their own journey. And that she is healing in the exact way she needs to.
It's awful how common it is for women to be pinned against each other, even in instances where they don’t directly acknowledge the chatter. In the past, we’ve seen people like Selena Gomez and Hailey Bieber have to make public statements to set the narrative straight and quell the flames from both sides.
It’s hard to tell whether we’ll see something like that in this case, and Kayla’s video is probably as far as it will go. But if the fans don’t stop with the online taunting, be it the Black men, the Black women or the Swifties, the women may have to decide, either independently or together, on how to move everyone past the issue. Kayla is just trying to live without her entire life becoming about her ex's new relationship. It's a shame some fans won't let her.